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Sunday, February 28, 2016

CSUS statistics professor coached daughters to spelling championships

"Geetha Ramachandran taught statistics for three decades" summarizes Cathy Locke, Online Reporter - Sacramento Bee.
Photo: Geetha Ramachandran © 2010 Heather Parker

Geetha Ramachandran taught three decades of students as a professor of statistics at California State University, Sacramento, but she was perhaps best known in the Sacramento region as mother and coach of the 1988 National Spelling Bee champion.

Her eldest daughter, Rageshree Ramachandran, became the first California resident to win the national contest. Seven years later, her younger daughter, Sohini, won the Central Valley Spelling Bee and also advanced to the national competition.

“She sought perfection,” Doraiswamy “Chandra” Ramachandran, said of his wife of 41 years. “She wanted you to try to do things to the best of your ability.”

Geetha Ramachandran, a Gold River resident, died Feb. 18 of lymphoma, said her husband. She was 67.

Although Ramachandran’s name typically was linked to her daughters’ achievements in news stories, she was their role model, Chandra Ramachandran said.

As a father, he said, he could mentor his daughters, “but a mother who had a Ph.D. had a lot of impact,” he said.

Geetha Ramachandran was born Jan. 12, 1949, to A.S. Krishnan and Saraswathy Krishnan in Madras, India. She was the second of four children.

She excelled academically and was ranked “First Class First” in statistics – the equivalent of summa cum laude, her husband said – as a teenager in 1966. She also was the debate champion of Presidency College, an honor earlier achieved by former Indian President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

Ramachandran entered the graduate program at the Indian Statistical Institute, where she met her future husband and fellow mathematician. After earning her doctoral degree, she was a visiting faculty member at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of the Philippines, before coming to the United States in 1980. She served on the faculty at Rutgers University, Rider College (now Rider University) in Princeton, N.J. Elon College in North Carolina and the University of Georgia at Athens before moving to California.

In 1984, she joined the faculty at CSUS, where she and her husband were professors in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. She retired in January 2015.

Edward Bradley, a professor and former chairman of the department, said he and Ramachandran joined the CSUS faculty about the same time. She came to the university with outstanding credentials, he said, noting the Indian Statistical Institute has one of the world’s top statistics program. Ramachandran was particularly known for her upper-division statistics courses. Many of her students, he said, went on to graduate programs and professions in the actuarial field. 

Source: Sacramento Bee